Tourism NI is calling on Northern Ireland to provide a ‘Giant Welcome’ as more than 215,000 eager spectators are set to descend on the Causeway Coast for The 148th Open at Royal Portrush.
From the local tourism and hospitality industry to schools, sports clubs and families, everyone is invited to show their pride and excitement as the greatest golfers in the world, for the first time in nearly 70 years, prepare to battle it out, between July 18 – 21, for the prestigious Claret Jug over the Dunluce Links.
To get behind the Giant Welcome, the Northern Ireland public are invited to simply post a photograph or video on social media to demonstrate how they are supporting The Open, using #GiantWelcome #TheOpen.
The recent Visitor Attitude Survey from Tourism NI reveals that a friendly welcome helped Northern Ireland meet and exceed the expectations of 97% of leisure visitors and an astounding 95% of out of state leisure visitors indicated they would recommend it to others. Additionally, responding visitors all marked friendliness of local people and staff at over eight marks out of ten.
Lesley-Ann O’Donnell, Tourism NI Project Manager for The Open said; “With the eyes of the world truly on Northern Ireland this July, the Giant Welcome is about promoting the best of what we have to offer as a globally recognised destination.
“We already have some great examples of hotels, shops, restaurants, golf clubs and visitor attractions pulling out all the stops to give visitors a special NI welcome for golf fans and visitors alike. The #GiantWelcome provides a great opportunity to share our best and most creative welcomes to the world.”
In partnership with eight local councils, Tourism NI exceeded its target in the number of WorldHost Ambassadors for Golf trained ahead of The 148th Open this month. Over 550 delegates successfully completed the training, equipping the participants with the necessary skills and resources and helping them create a warm and friendly welcome for visitors. The WorldHost training programme, facilitated by People 1st International, is aimed at the retail, tourism, accommodation and hospitality sectors.
Examples so far of those going above and beyond to illustrate Northern Ireland’s #GiantWelcome include:
- Belfast One BID and Belfast Cathedral Quarter BID are developing an 18-hole city centre golf trail for the week of the championship
- Armagh Planetarium is profiling the fact that The Open coincides with the anniversary of the first man on the moon and how US astronaut, Alan Shepard, played golf on the moon
- Local designer, Sara O’Neill, has issued a bespoke silk scarf to be sold exclusively at Royal Portrush Golf Club shop which celebrates the unique wildlife and environmental conservation of the course
- A Primary Schools Golf Programme, funded by the Department for Communities, will offer up to 30 primary schools across the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council area to get involved in golf in the school environment, offering taster sessions in fun golf with expert training
- The Department for Communities’ Build Up to the Open Inclusive Golf Scheme aims to increase participation in golf among some of the under-represented groups, including people with disabilities, young people, females and those from disadvantaged backgrounds
- Hastings Hotel Group are providing their much-loved ‘Rory Quackilroy’ themed rubber ducks for visitors staying in any of their luxury hotels during The Open
- You can explore the taste of Northern Ireland through James Street & Co.’s celebratory The 148th Open Menu, showcasing best of NI produce in dishes full of rich local flavour
As added incentive, the most creative posts for the #GiantWelcome will be up for some fantastic money can’t buy prizes on offer; including a professional golf lesson and overnight stay on the Causeway Coast awarding the efforts of individuals from across Northern Ireland.
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With The 148th Open due to take place at Royal Portrush in a matter of weeks, Tourism NI have commissioned a fitting tribute Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke – all of whom will be competing in the tournament – alongside former Open Champion and Portrush man Fred Daly. Their faces have been digitally carved into the cliff face of Fair Head, reflecting how Northern Ireland is truly "Made for Golf"; from the sporting talent we produce to the rugged landscapes on which our courses are enjoyed. #golf #theopen #rorymcilroy #freddaly #darrenclarke #graememcdowell #portrush #northernireland #tag
Industry and tourism trade efforts will also be recognised with a prestigious trophy awarded to those displaying their most imaginative #GiantWelcome on social media.
It is truly an epic year for Northern Ireland tourism as The Open at Royal Portrush will also be beamed live to over 600 million households across the world.
A team of 6,000 staff and 350 volunteers from across Northern Ireland are preparing to warmly welcome visitors in three weeks’ time. The 148th Open is widely expected to be remembered by players and spectators alike as one of the highlights of the Championship’s long and illustrious history.